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This morning’s session was a “no-intensity” day. Just did the “no intensity” yoga/Russian stretching session as from Scott Sonnon’s TACFIT Kettlebell. It’s probably my favorite no intensity/warm up routine to do.

I took a few weeks for a break from real intensity. As I posted below, I’ve recently started back up. My long range strategy is to follow a “heartbeat” sort of pattern, varying the intensity and duration of the sessions so that I have sort of a good bit of low level stuff and occasionally spiking up for intensity and/or duration.

That can be spun in a fractal pattern, where you have a session that is almost all intensity and/or duration (sort of the Tabata protocol), or one that is mostly low level with a couple of spikes in there.

You can can also spiral up such that you have a yearly pattern reflecting the same idea.

So much to play with. 🙂

Diet: Fasted since last evening.
Music: Pandora channel Paramahansa Yogananda Radio.

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Today’s little bundle of joy was brought to you by Pavel, Hofmekler, and Sonnon.

I went for a sustained strength day, combining Ori Hofmekler’s Controlled Fatigue Training (CFT) and Pavel Tsatsouline’s Power To The People (PTTP), and a dash of Scott Sonnon (TACFIT).

I structured it around the CFT progression: Pre-Fatigue, Core, and Post-Fatigue. For the Core workout, I did Pavel’s PTTP, with abs done in the TACFIT 20/10 Tabata protocol. To wit:

Pre-Fatigue
– 5 minutes, kettlebell long cycle clean and jerk (LCCJ), switching hands (16 kg)

Core
– 5 reps each hand, kettlebell side press (32 kg)
– 5 reps deadlift (221 lbs/~100 kg) (went light today because I hadn’t done them in a while)
– 8 sets of abs (4 sets ab pullovers w/16 kg kbell; 2 sets ab planks; 1 set each side/side plank)
– 5 reps each hand, kettlebell side press (32 kg)
– 5 reps deadlift (265 lbs/~120 kg)

Post-Fatigue
– 5 minutes, kettlebell swings, two and one handed (24 kg)

Music
Workout: White Zombie, Supersexy Swingin’ Sounds
Cooldown/Stretching: Waldeck, The Night Garden

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Well, it’s been a busy Fall so far. Lots of travel. I was quite enjoying the TACFIT Kettlebell cycle I was on. I got a good way through, but had to break for a couple of weeks due to travel for work and fun. And the Thanksgiving holiday, natch.

Whilst I was away on fun break (Costa Rica for a friend’s wedding), I did manage to get a bit of swimming in, along with (believe it or not) stunt kiting on the beach (rough life!) and just generally walking around a lot. When I wasn’t sitting in a well-shaded cafe on the beach imbibing either coffee or beer…

So anyway, I’m going to start another TACFIT Kettlebell cycle, but I thought I’d switch things up for a week or two before jumping on the highly structured program.

I needed a good jumpstart after laying low so long, so I hit the bells for the last three days, for some pretty good intensity. I added just a touch of the yoga-like recovery moves from the TACFIT stuff. That really seemed to help me out with joints and flexibility.

Friday
Friday was a fairly complex set, which I’ve detailed before. Using the Tabata protocol of 20 seconds on/10 seconds rest, for eight sets, I did three rounds, giving me a pretty heavy sweat session.

Friday (Fasting Day)
Round One
– Snatches, Tabata Set 20/10 (16 kg)

Round Two
– LCCJ, Tabata Set 20/10 (24 kg)

Round Three
– Two-handed Swings, Tabata Set 20/10 (32 kg)

Cooldown/Recovery Stretching

Saturday
Saturday saw me doing the De Vany progression, light weight for 15 reps, medium for 10 or 8 (I think it was 10), and heavy for 5. I used the three kettlebells for that progression, obviously from lightest (16 kg) to heaviest (32 kg), doing military presses.

Saturday
Round One
– Military Presses, 15 reps each hand (16 kg)

Round Two
– Military Presses, 10 reps each hand (24 kg)

Round Three
– Military Presses, 5 reps each hand (32 kg)

Cooldown/Recovery Stretching

Sunday
Sunday I went even a bit simpler in one way; just two exercises and fewer reps and sets. This was from Pavel’s old “Power To The People” protocol. Normally I’d use deadlifts for the pulling/leg sets, but I just focused on legs more than pulling.

Sunday (Fasting Day)
Round One
– Military Presses, 5 each hand (32 kg)
– Squats, 5 on EZ Curl Bar (145 lbs)

Round Two
– Military Presses, 5 each hand (32 kg)
– Lunges, Squats, and Overhead Squats, 5-10 ?, on the EZ Curl bar (145 lbs)

Cooldown/Recovery Stretching

I left out a bit of stuff, but that was the core. In addition, I did some good heavy bag work, unarmed and with stick and waster. Also some combat stance-type stuff. I grabbed the big bar and deadlifted it partially, to see if I wanted to go for a set of those, but let it go. Later.

As sweaty as I was from Friday’s PT, I was noticeably less so on Saturday, and almost didn’t sweat at all (seemingly) tonight. But that’s not too unexpected, given that Friday was a heck of a METCON workout, whereas today was maybe technically more weight, but shorter and real short sets.

Also, the keen-eyed will note that I have periodization cycles (or “waves”) within periodization cycles. Not that Friday was hardcore METCON, a lot of intensity, many reps over a reduced time. Saturday was a “grind” workout with many less reps over all and not under the clock. There was no ballistic effort allowed in the strict military press, thereby enforcing a disadvantaged lift (making the weight seem heavier). Finally, on Sunday, I was basically doing a pure power/strength set with really low reps and heavier weight.

Within the workout on Friday, we also see that each set, by virtue of being Tabata, is periodized from high intensity, to no intensity, AND I went up in weight and lowered the rep count during the whole event. Saturday was similar, going from high reps/low weight, to low reps/high weight. Again, Sunday was a much simpler plan–no real “wave” going on with it, except I made sure to do the lower weight exercise first, then immediately follow with the higher weight.

So you can see that the overall three days was “waved” from high rep focus, to medium rep, to the final day with low reps, higher weight. And that progression was mirrored *within* the workout itself. Waves within waves. That’s similar in philosophy to the “Big Beyond Belief” system I’ve talked about before (and you can refer to on my workouts page).

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I’ve been enjoying Scott Sonnon’s TACFIT Kettlebell course, a course that fits into his TACFIT training spectrum. Aside from all the macho hype that his page descriptions run, I like the thinking that goes into what he’s doing.

He says there is no such thing as “General Physical Preparedness;” the body can only be prepared in specific ways.

In his own words (from the about page of http://www.tacfit.tv):

In short, he attempts to go beyond “functional fitness,” into what he calls, “tactical fitness.” Hence, “TACFIT.” Several of his ideas I rather like. He uses a wave periodization format, similar to the Big Beyond Belief system I found out about in the 1990s, where you start off with a “no” intensity day, then go to a “low” intensity day, followed by the “moderate” intensity day, finishing with the “high” intensity day. I like that kind of cycling.

He also incorporates specific routines, pulled from yoga asanas, as recovery, or “compensation” for the heavy work. This is somewhat unique, though I believe the P90X program does something similar.

So Day One, the “no intensity day,” incorporates Yoga Routine 1. On Day Two, the “low intensity day,” you will go through Yoga Routine 2. Day Three, “moderate intensity day,” will have you sandwich the “meat” of the workout program between Yoga Routine 1 and Yoga Routine 2 at a moderate pace or intensity, and on Day Four, you bracket the workout the same way, but specifically trying to up your pace or intensity from the last time, so that you have continual advance. Next day, you drop back down to just Yoga Routine 1 and “no” intensity.

So far, so good. However, kettlebells are pretty much my favorite training tool right now. I tried doing the bodyweight one (TACFIT Commando), but lost interest almost immediately. Fortunately he recently came out with a course to integrate the TACFIT protocols into kettlebell training.

And I actually really like it. I like using that wave structure with the peak and recover days, having the yoga compensation (even though I hate some of the moves–shoulder stretch, ouch!), and having the meat of the workout being kettlebells. Pretty simple but challenging stuff.

He also uses the burst energy type of training for the kettlebell portion of training, where you circuit through six kbell exercises that last 30 seconds each, take a minute off, the cycle through them again for several rounds.

Unfortunately, I picked up a sore throat somewhere, and not feeling as well as I should. Yesterday was the low intensity day, so I went ahead and did the yoga routine for that day. It is actually quite a short and simple program, when you get down to it, and I felt great afterward. But today is moderate intensity, and I don’t want to compromise my immune system and slow down my getting well (there is the MD Ren Faire tomorrow, and I’d like to go; several friends are going as well).

I’d hate to interrupt my program. I usually feel better later in the day when I have this (seems like it hits me once every year or so). So, if nothing else, I’ll probably do the yoga programs, and see how I feel about the kettlebell portion.

So–I guess we’ll see…

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Friday

Ah, well–no longsword fencing Friday night. The roommate met the UMW fencers for a quick meet and greet to talk about possible seminars for the rest of the year, then headed out to meet some friends who happened to be in town. I ended up meeting them there at the Fredericksburg Pub. It was good to see them again, and meet a new couple, as well. Of course, I was wearing the Utilikilt, which is what I typically wear to work on Fridays, so I felt right at home there (the waiters/waitresses there wear the kilt as well. Quite fetching on a lass, I must say… 🙂

After that, it was off to this place called Splitsville, a clever interpretation of the bowling alley, done up as a classy lounge. Sort of very urban, but with a sort of Atomic Age attitude and flair. My ankle is still a bit swollen (it’s on and off, been like that since I’ve taken running back up), so I didn’t participate in the actual ball-throwing, but had a good time nonetheless.

Saturday

Saturday, I had been intending to PT all morning long, but hadn’t got into it yet when the roommate called on his way back from work. He wanted to grab some chow, but I was *just* going down to the workout room, so he belayed going to get food and joined me.

I wasn’t really into a super-killer metcon kind of workout (and I wanted to encourage him to workout, not punish him) so I basically led him through sort of a standard lifting regime, but using the kettlebells. In “hard style” kb terminology, it was more of a “grind” workout, than a “ballistic” or even “hybrid.” See “Understanding Ballistics, Grinds, and Hybrids” for a pretty cogent explanation.

So, we went through a nice litany of things–military presses, triceps extensions, rows, kb squats, deadlifts, Turkish Get Ups, kb lunges, cleans, etc. A good workout–I slept very well last night, went to bed relatively early and woke up early and refreshed. It was nice to go out on the back deck pre-dawn and slowly sip down a cup of tea, waiting for the day to begin. Beautiful night/pre-dawn this morning, too.

Speaking of good sleep, I’ve been getting lots of headaches in the morning, and it seemed to be getting worse over the last couple of years, especially when traveling out to Colorado Springs. I recently discovered that if I wake up with a burgeoning headache, I sit up relatively straight and try to sleep that way. Even if I didn’t get to sleep, the headaches started to go away, and I wouldn’t need to take a morning aspirin dose.

One thing I’ve noticed for a little while is that sometimes I wake up with my lower jaw thrust forward and nearly locked in place. My TMJ would be stiff and sore then, and I have a headache or the start of one. For a while before all this, it would seem if I laid in bed too long instead of getting up, I’d get the headache. I started paying more attention, and found that when I laid down, my jaw would want to drop forward and down (or sideways) when I would sleep on my side and stomach. And I’ve always seemed to have phlegm and such when going to bed, and I’ve noticed that it seemed like my sinuses would dry out and swell.

Anyway, what I think has been happening all these years, and getting worse, is that as I sleep, and especially in the dry air of either central heat/air conditioning, or when I have direct airflow on me, my air passages have a tendency to swell just a little. As a kid, I think I developed a habit of sleeping on my side and stomach because that would cant my head and neck in a more favorable position for airflow (esp as I had a lot of sinus drainage as a kid). However, for whatever reason, it hasn’t been enough in the last couple of years, and it’s been getting worse, esp out in the Springs where I’m at 6000 ft with super dry air, and I recently got my air conditioner at home fixed and at a higher efficiency.

So, as I’m sleeping, my jaw distends to allow max airflow, and by doing that all night, it cramps up and gives me a heck of a tension headache. I noticed that it often seemed worse after a workout that involved my upper body, especially my upper back and neck, and if I have alcohol too soon before bed.

I saw a TV advert not too long ago talking about preventing snoring using a mouthguard that has an upper and lower jaw guard that was supposed to keep your teeth and jaws separated and into position such that the lower jaw wouldn’t kind of slide backwards, constricting the air passage and causing snoring and/or sleep apnea. I thought that was an interesting idea, so I looked for one of those at a couple of pharmacies, but only found the ones that are supposed to protect from tooth grinding. Apparently, people will grind their teeth in their sleep so hard that they make really bad grinding noises, and damage the teeth or injure their jaws.

So, I thought “what the heck” and bought a package of those and fitted one last night. I think one of the reasons I went to bed a little early was that I was actually excited to try this out. Well–so far, I only have a sample of n=1, but what I do know is that I had a very good sleep, and had no problems getting up this morning. Very early, as I’ve written. So, we’ll see how it goes.

Sunday

Since I felt so refreshed, I went ahead and waited ’til it was pretty light (around 0630 or 0700 maybe) and took off for a nice 20-30 minute walk in the relatively cool morning. Then I did a Scott Sonnon TACFIT Commando-style bodyweight workout. Basically four different exercises; done in that familiar Tabata protocol of four rounds of eight 20 second sets (with 10 second rests in between the work sets). A push up set, an ab set, a wrestler’s sit-out set, and a lunge set.

Again–doing the push up set for example, (using a particular type of push up) would be doing the push ups for 20 seconds, rest for 10 seconds, another 20 seconds of work, rest 10, etc., until you complete eight sets of work on that one exercise. Then rest a minute or two, and go on to eight sets of the next exercise, for four exercises. Simple, but fairly taxing.

And to top it off, I waited until brunch and cooked some steak and eggs for fuel. The roommate finally woke up, so he helped forage at the store, cook, and eat the spoils. 🙂

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So, for something different tonight, I downloaded a sample of Scott Sonnon’s TACFIT. He provides the sample if you register here. In this case, the sample workout was the Israeli Special Forces workout that apparently he provided them at some point.

I’ve looked at Coach Sonnon’s stuff over the years, and thought about trying it out–you all know how I love to learn and try new stuff. 🙂

He Russian Martial Arts style and fitness solutions were always the counterbalance to the Systema of Vasiliev and Ryabko on the American continent. They often end up in the same place, but take different paths to get there. Where Vlad uses almost completely intuitive training, letting you learn everything through experimentation and “feeling,” Coach Sonnon intellectualizes everything, providing tons and tons of explanation. He doesn’t skimp on mind-body connection, though. His stuff is all about that–he just tries to understand all of it and explain it. Each style of instruction probably fits different types of students.

I’ve noticed that some Vlad-trained instructors (such as Kwan Lee and Kevin Secours) teach a combination of both, in different proportions.

Lots of history there. Anyway. I downloaded it and gave it a try. I like it. This progression is almost criminally simple, though the exercises aren’t. Which is okay. I was looking for something simple to progress through, and exercises which are a little more gymnastic than the typical calisthenics than what I do with the SEAL workout.

Basically, there are four exercises and you do a couple of reps for each exercise (depending on your level) within the span of a minute. That’s one round. The extra time left in the minute is your rest time. Brilliant! Really. You have 20 rounds, therefore you are limited to 20 minutes.

Since he puts this out for free, I’m okay with delineating it a bit more. The beginning level is only two reps per minute of each, then four for intermediates, then six for the hardcore types. As it was my first time seeing the workout, I chose the beginning level. 🙂

The exercises are a little bit exotic, but not too much. But I’ve found they’re excellent full body movements, and fairly intense. You start off sitting in a butt-to-floor squat, hop down on all fours, then back up again. Second exercise is rolling all the way back and attempting to pop the floor with your toes. Next, you do whats called a Springing Tripod. He explains it best:

A little note here–this was the hardest one for me, and I still haven’t mastered it. Everything I’ve learned (and taught) in the combat arts says not to post like that when you fall, and my instincts went totally against it. I got a few in, but most of the time, I collapsed into some sort of break fall. I’ll work on this, and see what happens.

The fourth one is type of “plank” where you extend out straight (with you hands and feet on the deck) then, keeping hands and feet in place, you pull back into sort of a crunch with you knees and feet turned to one side. Sorta like this:

I did okay with the previously noted exception of the Springing Tripod. Those drills are neat and I can see and feel how they will develop both your strength and your stamina in the 20-minute format. I did about five rounds, took a breather set or two, then went most of the way to finish, ending up with one more rest set on the way. My hands were hurting from the Springing Tripod, as you can imagine from hitting the hard concrete floor with just a thin carpet layer on it. I’m glad to have learned these, and like having an alternate bodyweight circuit. I’m going to keep using it for a while, and may actually purchase some of his stuff.

He’s very big on both training the principle strength drills, and drills that facilitate mobility and recovery. And he can do playful, EF-type stuff, too:

Enjoy.

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